Concrete Homes, Trendy or Practical?

From on April 11, 2008 in Concrete

Concrete homes have grown in popularity with the growing attention to the conservation of trees and improving energy efficiency in homes. However, are they practical and functional, or simply a passing fad?

As discussed in the article Why Build a Home with Concrete, concrete homes offer many advantages over stick-built homes, including energy efficiency, non-toxic materials, and high durability. The drawbacks were also pointed out: concrete is not a renewable resource verses trees, which can be replanted.

Concrete homes look exactly the same as any other home, both inside and out. There are a few different options to choose from for constructing a concrete home, and the decision as to which one to use is really up to you and your contractor’s recommendation for your area.

  • Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF) have the most publicity and are well-known for their solid, lasting construction and foam insulation.
  • Removable Forms (cast-in-place) use temporary forms made out of aluminum. Foam insulation is placed inside the forms, and then the concrete is pourd around the foam.
  • Panel systems have been used in Europe for over two decades, and only recently became available in America. The concrete panels are pre-fabricated off of house plans in a concrete plant, then delivered to the job site complete with steel reinforced walls, foam insulation, electrical wiring, and cut-outs for windows and doors.
  • Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC) is a system consisting of blocks held together by mortar. These systems are more technologically advanced than the standard mortared block wall. Manufactured through a method that causes the concrete to rise like bread dough, the end result consists of more than 80% air, and can be molded to fit any design.
  • Shotcrete is another method where the concrete is shot under pressure onto forms to form walls, floors, and roofs.

Concrete homes can save you up to 25% on your homeowner’s insurance premiums. Although not a renewable resource as trees are, they are made from partially recycled materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. Additionally, their longevity allows for little maintenance or repair and will last for several years, preventing the need for consumption of more materials. Their energy efficiency makes them an appealing choice for consumers, predicting a strong future and growth in the usage of concrete products in home building. Discuss with your contractor the feasibility and benefits of using concrete in your new home or remodel.